The Heli-Ski Blog

CMH's Journey Towards Sustainability

Posted by Jane Carswell on Jan 19, 2010 9:41:00 PM

This week Canadian Mountain Holidays will release Volume III of “Moving Towards Sustainability", its regular corporate sustainability report.  I sat down with Dave Butler, CMH’s Director of Sustainability to chat about a few things, including the work and stories that lead to the completion of this latest report.
BB Heli-Skier by T Donahue
JC: Dave, what exactly does it mean to be the Director of Sustainability for a Heli-Ski and Heli-Hiking company?
DB: What an amazing opportunity! In short, it means keeping both eyes firmly on the far horizon, ensuring that we can keep sharing these mountains with our guests for many years to come. On the one hand, we face many challenges as the world becomes more complex so it keeps me hopping to try to stay one step ahead of those challenges. But on the other, I’m working with a group of colleagues who all feel deeply passionate about these incredible places we share with our guests. With that as a strong foundation, I rarely see any resistance to finding new and innovative ways to take advantage of our fiscal, social and environmental opportunities.

JC: Congratulations on Volume III of Moving Towards Sustainability.  This third volume represents a significant amount of work on not only your part, but of the Second Nature Committee and all the staff at CMH.   Is it a relief now that it’s done or have you already got a task list started for Volume IV?
DB: For all of us who have worked on this, it’s a real pleasure to be in a position to share it with everyone connected with CMH. But it’s not unlike pausing to enjoy the view during an amazing hike, looking at where we’ve come from and where we’ve yet to go. There are many, many more steps ahead of us, which is both daunting and exciting. In our case, it’s becoming clearer to me that this incredible hike has no end-point.
JC: What do you see as the major accomplishment for CMH since releasing Vol II in 2007?
DB: There are three, Jane. The first is the amazing innovative attitude that I see on the part of many of our staff. We’ve featured many of those stories in the report. The commitment of individual employees, and groups of employees to continued improvement and personal initiative is a constant source of inspiration for me. The second is the focus we’ve put on working with, and influencing our suppliers to change their behaviours and practices for the better. To me, that’s an unanticipated and very positive result from our own efforts. And third, we’ve come out of the closet, so to speak, about how we’re dealing with energy use and climate change. It’s an issue globally, and I’m pleased that we have begun to talk openly about our efforts.

JC: Sustainability at CMH is something that we all believe in and it seems from your latest report a number of the new, successful initiatives that have made a difference have come from the team ‘on the ground’.  Can you tell me one of those stories that really sticks out?
DB: The work that Rick Carswell has been doing to investigate the background of some of our suppliers is a great example, Jane. His efforts to research and understand the realities of beef and fish production, to go beyond emotion or marketing hype, is the kind of thing we should be doing more often. It also reinforces the fact that there rarely any black and white answers to complex issues, and it reinforces the value of publicly reporting on the reasons for our decisions.
JC: Climate change is a complex and emotional issue. Why has CMH decided to talk about it in this report?
DB: It’s an issue that has grabbed the public’s attention like no other that I’ve seen. I feel that it’s important for us not to wade into the debate about climate change, but instead to be clear on what it is we are doing about our use of energy. That’s what we’ve done in the report. We talk about how we measure our use of energy, and most importantly, we’re open about what it is we’re doing about that and where our challenges lie from a business perspective.

JC: What would you like readers to do after they’ve digested the report?
DB: Two things. One: I would really like feed-back from readers. Tell me what you think about what we’ve chosen to do, and how we’re doing it. Give me your suggestions for us to move forward, or let me know what questions might remain unanswered for you.
Second, I ask you to take a look at your own business or life, and give some thought to changes you might make to begin your own journey toward sustainability. I would be grateful if you would share those with me.

JC: How can our readers contact you and where can they find the full report?
DB: Feel free to leave comments right here on the blog and let's get the conversation going.  Share your feedback with others.  Alternatively, email me at or call me at 1.250.426.3599. To read the overview or the complete report, visit the Sustainability Report secton on our website.

What questions or comments do you have for Dave Butler and the CMH team about our commitment to Sustainability?

Topics: Sustainability, CMH